Many races are still tight, but how do media outlets call winners?

SPOKANE, Wash. — While many people watched results from the election pour in Tuesday night into Monday morning and beyond, it probably had many wondering why some races are called immediately and why we are still waiting on others.

When the polls closed on the west coast at 8:00 p.m. the State of Washington was called for Joe Biden and the Governorship for Jay Inslee.  That had some questioning how media outlets make that call.

If you go with an outlet like The Associated Press, they will declare winners in more than 7,000 races this year.  Outlets like the AP rely on a research team—they look at how states have voted in past elections, past results for voting by mail and early in person voting, and the states history of counting votes after Election Day—but this election year is unlike no other.

“You have some states that won’t even be able to start counting their ballots until Election Day and if there is a real increase in mail in voting it may simple be that they are not able to count fast enough for us at The AP to be able to declare a winner, and that’s okay that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something that’s gone wrong,” said Julie Pace, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press.

In a state like Washington, which is historically Democratic, or Idaho, which is historically Republican, the races are called much faster.  That was seen all along the West Coast as Oregon and California were called for Joe Biden seconds after the polls closed.

On the flip side, there are still races simply too close to call at this point, including Pennsylvania and Georgia.  While votes are still being counted and it could be headed to a recount, The Associated Press will report that is is too early to call.